Click for Bookshop

Captain Robert Falcon Scott


1868 - 1912

Antarctic explorer, who died returning from the South Pole in 1912. He was beaten in his attempt to be first to the pole by Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen. Scott was a naval officer with no Antarctic experience until he was invited to lead the National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-4. He was the choice of Sir Clements Markham (1830 - 1916), the powerful President of the Royal Geographical Society and old-fashioned imperialist, who was hostile to the rather more experienced William Speirs Bruce (1867 - 1921). Scott has been criticised as an adventurer, who made little effort to undertake scientific research during his expeditions but, despite this, the expedition brought him fame, a promotion and ensured his reputation within the British establishment. He became embroiled in an unnecessary territorial dispute with Ernest Shackleton (1874 - 1922) over who could explore what and, determined to be the first to the South Pole, set off for Antarctica once again on the 15th June 1910 in the Terra Nova. He was never to return home, but his death brought about the most remarkable outpouring of national grief and pride which saw Scott lauded as a hero in the years leading up to the First World War, while completely diminishing Amundsen's achievement. Later historians have reflected on Scott's flaws; he was impetuous, driven by glory, missed details in the planning of the expedition which mattered in the harsh environment of the Antarctica and was not good at taking advice from others who were potentially more experienced than himself.

The ship Scott commanded during the National Antarctic Expedition, the RMS Discovery, now lies at Discovery Point part the reclaimed waterfront of Dundee.


Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better